Compare cheap hotels in Italy for great deals. Italy is possibly the most awe-inspiring country on the planet. Italians are passionate about almost everything they do and so it is no surprise that the country has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the planet. It is difficult to turn a corner in this magnificent country without seeing the effects of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, Galileo and Julies Caesar. And when you add in the country’s wonderful Mediterranean climate, with average temperatures between twenty and thirty degrees in the summer. You can see why over forty-five million tourists visit Italy each year!
The country is brimming with attractions on a scale that no other country can come compete. Particularly when it comes to the significance of its dramatic Roman Empire heritage/culture. The more popular attractions include the Coliseum, Roman Forum and Trevi Fountain in Rome, the Duomo Cathedral in Milan and The Santa Maria del Fiore Basilica in Florence.
Not to forget St. Mark’s Square and the gondola, bridges and canals of Venice, the Greek temples in Paestrum, the aftermath of the volcano in Pompeii and the Piazza del Campo square in Siena. Other attractions worth seeing are the leaning tower in Pisa, the Catacombs of the Capuchins in Sicily and of course the Vatican City, a tiny state nestled snugly inside Rome with its amazing St Peter’s Square/Church, Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums.
Everyone mentions Rome, Venice and Florence as the ‘must-see’ cities when visiting Italy but there are so many other places worth discovering. Some of these include a stunningly scenic drive along the Amalfi Coast, a boat trip on the enormous Lake Como in the Italian Lake District, skiing in the Alpine region or some relaxing sunbathing on a beach on the Italian Riviera. And if that isn’t enough how about some offshore exploration by visiting the country’s beautiful islands, including Sardinia, Capri, Sicily, Elba and the volcanic island of Stromboli.
The country is renowned for its gastronomic delights. Where would we be without Pizza, Spaghetti Bolognese, Lasagne, Bruschetta, Ciabatta, Salami, Prosciutto, Minestrone, Cannelloni, Ravioli, Pancetta, Carbonara, Gorgonzola, Mascarpone, Parmesan, Risotto, Panettone and Tiramisu. And if you fancy a juicy bottle of wine, some of the world’s finest wines can be discovered in the popular wine growing regions. Wine sampling tours have become very popular in Italy when wine lovers can have a few sips of luscious wines including Barola, Chianti, Amarone and Soave!
Italy is one of the most fashionable places on the planet and has many world famous designer labels to invest in if you fancy a major shopping spree during your visit. Versace, Prada, Gucci, Armani and Dolce and Gabbana are just a few of the designer brands worth considering when visiting Milan and Rome. For those on a slightly smaller budget, Italian leather goods are always an extremely popular purchase and offer great value for money, from wallets and handbags to belts and jackets.
Italy happens to be soccer mad and the lucky football enthusiast may be able to get match tickets to see any one of the country’s iconic football teams including Fuentes, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Roma. The world famous Giro d’Italia bike race and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza are also big sporting attractions. Review cheap hotels in Italy today & save!
Rome, the capital city of Italy, has to be the most dramatic city in the world! Built on seven hills, with the river Tiber flowing through its centre, Rome is breath-taking no matter which street or piazza you find yourself.
And with the city’s Mediterranean climate attracting wonderfully hot average highs, hitting over thirty degrees during the summer, the best way to discover the city’s monumental sights is on foot. Those a little more adventurous can go by rented Segway or on a supervised city bike tour!
Like Paris, Rome is a passionate city! There are very few places that exude more romance than the wonderfully atmospheric Trevi Fountain. Famous for its seductive scene in the great La Dolce Vita movie, legend has it that anyone who throws a coin into its water will return to the city some day. Amazingly, over three thousand euro ends up in the fountain every day!
Another romantic hotspot are The Spanish Steps leading up to the Spagna church, where hundreds of couples/individuals sit on the one hundred and thirty-five steps and ‘man-watch! The Spanish Steps have also been featured in many popular movies including Roman Holiday. Not only is almost every building (or ruin!) oozing with historical significance, the city has some of the most exciting piazzas/squares/plazas in the world.
Located on one of Rome’s seven hills, Piazza del Campidoglio was designed by none other than Michelangelo and contains a number of wonderful art and artefact museums in palatial buildings. Piazza Novona is famed for its baroque-styled buildings, stunning fountains and winter market, and has featured in some popular movies including Angels and Demons!
The People’s Square, or Piazza del Popolo, is a large square with an imposing Egyptian Obelisk of Ramesses II as its centrepiece and some equally impressive fountains, twin seventeenth century churches, coffee shops and street artists. Also worth a visit is Plaza Venezia, as it sits next to the seventy metre high National Monument to Victor Emanuel II.
Although not part of the Italian state, the independent state of the Vatican City is located within Rome and, after the Coliseum, has got to be experienced at least once! Only eighty hectares in size and home to less than one thousand people (including the pope!), the Vatican City welcomes up to five million visitors each year. The main sights inside the city walls include St.
Peter’s Square (with its 4,000 year-old Egyptian obelisk), St Peter’s Basilica (although not as essential as previously, it may be advisable to cover one’s shoulders and not wear shots when entering the basilica), the Sistine Chapel (with Michelangelo’s frescos/painted ceiling) and if you are really lucky you can apply for and hopefully receive an Papal Audience Ticket, which is free of charge!
Shopping in Rome can be a real treat, particularly if looking for leather jackets, bags, belts or shoes. Via Condotti and Via Borgnona are two of the more popular shopping streets, while Campo de Fiori and Porta Potese are two colourful markets worth spending a few hours in. A well deserved after-shopping meal can be had in the Trastevere ‘left bank’ area of the city.
1. The Coliseum: Iconic Roman amphitheatre built in seventy AD. The amphitheatre was most famous for its gladiator battles and its horrific executions, when Christians where thrown to the lions! Tours lasting forty-five minutes will take the visitor around the tiered seating and to the rooms under the amphitheatre that were used to house the lions and gladiators.
2. The Roman Forum: Located next door to the Coliseum, this large site contains the ruins of many historic buildings including the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, the Temple of Caesar, the Arch of Septimus and the Temple of Vesta. The Forum attracts up to five millions visitors each year. Make sure to get your Forum attractions map so you can locate everything in this vast Roman wonderland.
3. The Pantheon: Stunning Roman temple with eight giant columns and the largest dome on the planet (with a hole in its centre). Entrance is free and so the temple tends to become very crowded.
4. Palatine Hill: Overlooking the Roman Forum, this forty metre hill contains ancient ruins, including the Imperial Palace and the Stadium of Domitian. Legend has it that the hill is where Romulus and Remus were discovered by a wolf, both of whom went on to build the city of Rome.
5. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore: Of the city’s twenty-five churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this one is by far the biggest! Inside, the visitor will discover amazing mosaics, the Triumphal Arch, the colourful basilica nave and the Crypt of the Nativity. Entrance is free.
6. National Museum of Rome: Many wonderful exhibits to see here in this fifteenth century building, including marble and bronze statutes (particularly the bronze Boxer), mosaics and frescos. Under eighteens get in for free.
7. Circus Maximus: This once glorious chariot racing stadium is now very much a ruin and used as a public park space.
8. National Monument to Victor Emanuel II: This truly stunning white marble, nineteenth century building (built in memory of Italian king, Victor Emanuel II) houses The Museum of Italian Unification and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Bologna is not only steeped in magnificent cultural and religious architecture with wondrous artefacts, it is also renowned for its rich culinary dishes and extravagant shopping, and is also home to the oldest university in Europe, once frequented by none other than the popular writer, Umberto Eco. And what makes this once European Capital of Culture city really special is that it is compact enough to walk around on foot and soak up all the marvellous attractions…while keeping fit!
The city is located next to the River Po and beneath the majestic Apennine Mountains, and has a subtropical climate with average temperature highs over twenty nine degrees in July/August, which can drop to below minus in winter. Because of its extensive rail infrastructure, Bologna operates as a gateway for much of Italy, with nearly sixty million rail passengers passing through its central railway station per annum!
Those of you not easily put off by calorie counting will adore the local cuisine, which includes many delicious dishes made with rich, creamy sauces. Home of the world famous Spaghetti Bolognese (or Ragu alla Bolognese), Bologna is also a great place to enjoy authentic Tagliatele Bolognese, Tortellini in Brudo, Cotolette alla Bolognese and cured meats, including Mortadella.
There are even organised gourmet walking tours of the city, which include visits to pasta and chocolate makers. Bologna is also capital of the Emilia Romagna wine region, which specialises the sangioves grape, and so is home to many wonderful wines, including the world famous sparkling Lambrusco.
The main shopping streets in Bologna are Via D’Azeglio, dell’Indipendenza, Ugo Bassi, Rizzoli, Farini and Castiglione. Popular items to purchase include fashionable clothing and leather footwear, food products (olive oils, cheeses etc), antiques and wine. There is also a wonderfully colourful market in Piazza Maggiore, specialising in fine foods. Popular shopping malls include Centro Lame and Centro Bergo. Remember that (as in Spain) Italian shops tend to stay closed longer during lunchtime, typically closing at 1pm and reopening at 3.30pm.
1. Basilica de San Petronio: Enormous gothic church (15th biggest on the planet!). Inside are some stunning frescos, one of the biggest sundials in the world and colourful stained glass windows. Photography is forbidden inside.
2. Piazza Maggiore: Impressive piazza/square surrounded by Palazzos dei Notai, dei Banchi and d’Accursio, as well as the Basilica de San Petronio, a large statue of Neptune and a very useful tourist office.
3. The Two Towers of Bologna: These imposing towers of Asinelli and Garisenda are iconic to the city and Asinelli can be climbed, if you have the energy to tackle nearly five hundred steps! Amazing views over the city can be had by those fit enough for the challenge.
4. Santuario de Madonna di San Luca: Located on a hill just outside the city, this picturesque, baroque basilica offers amazing views as you ascend the hill, passing through nearly seven hundred arches/porticoes on your way.
5. Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna: Bologna’s National Art Gallery has works on display from popular artists including El Greco, Raphael, Titian and Giotto. Many local Bolognese artists and Renaissance paintings on also on display in this very large gallery.
6. Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica: The International Museum and Library of Bologna is filled with musical treasures, including 9 rooms of musical exhibits (instruments, musical scores, etc) and music-related manuscripts, letters and autographs from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century.
7. Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro: Bologna Cathedral is a baroque-styled, sixteenth/seventeenth century Roman Catholic cathedral. Inside is the wonderful Compianto su Cristo Morto sculptures by Lombardi, sculptured from terracotta. The bell in the cathedral’s bell tower weighs an amazing three thousand, three hundred kilos.
8. Museo per la Memoria di Ustica: Museum dedicated to those who lost their lives when a plane mysteriously crashed off the island of Ustica. The plane wreck has been reconstructed and is on display along with the passengers’ belongings. A very eerie experience indeed.
9. Teatro Anatomico: Anatomical museum replica of an old medical training facility where students could watch autopsies being performed, displaying curios including skinless human statues, numerous sculptures and busts. The room is decorated completely in wooden panelling.
Situated in the beautiful Tuscany region, with average temperature highs of thirty degrees during the summer months, Florence is one of the prettiest medieval cities in Europe and attracts up to two million tourists each year.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Florence excels in the quality and quantity of its stunning architectural buildings, museums, galleries, cathedrals, monuments and palaces.
And if the above isn’t enough, people who visit Florence even rave on about the city’s incredible bridges! Florence’s iconic Ponte Vecchio closed bridge is one of the most unusual bridges on the planet and is home to a host of famous shops! Crossing the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio is the perfect place to take that special ‘once in a lifetime’ photograph.
Other wonderful bridges in Florence are the Ponte Santa Trinita, the most ancient elliptic bridge on the planet, and the Ponte Alle Grazie, the oldest bridge in the city, with nine wonderful arches. Another feature that Florence is particularly renowned for is the way it has constructed its many wonderful and vibrant plazas/squares. Most famous of all is the Piazza della Signoria with its wonderful statues, Fountain of Neptune, outdoor museum (Loggia dei Lanzai), and many indoor museums.
The Piazza del Duomo is equally amazing and is the location of the Duomo (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore), cafes, restaurants and ice cream shops selling some wonderful gelato! For a slightly different take on the city, a visit to the hillside Piazza Michelangelo will reward the visitor with great views over Florence.
Those who wish to escape the cultural onslaught for a while can engage in some city centre shopping! The best designer outlets can be discovered in the Santa Maria Novella area, while the slightly less expensive department stores can be found around the Piazza della Republica. The Mercato Centrale is the most popular outdoor market in the city.
You will never go hungry in Florence, as the city is filled with trattorias, restaurants and gelatarias, all serving mouth watering Italian dishes. Keep in mind that it is more expensive to eat al fresco than it is to dine inside an establishment. The aforementioned Mercato Centrale is a great place to get some cheap, tasty grub from any one of the many food stalls. And to wash all that wonderful pasta and gelato down, a nice bottle of local Chianti will certainly hit the spot. Wine tasting tours to the Tuscan vineyards (for those who simply can’t get enough!) are highly recommended.
1. Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore: This enormous thirteenth century, gothic-styled Roman Catholic cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral is known throughout the world for its magnificent dome and is sometimes referred to as the Duomo. Inside, the mosaic floors, frescos, and the visit to the top of the bell tower make this a must see attraction.
2. The Basilica of San Miniato al Monte: Another stunning basilica, on a hillside overlooking the city. The Basilica of San Miniato al Monte is an eleventh century, Romanesque-styled building. Outside, the graves, gardens and grottos are particularly interesting while inside is filled with marble, frescos, mosaics and relics.
3. Uffizi Gallery: One of the most popular art museums on the planet! Works on display in this enormous palace include masterpieces by Caravaggio, Botticelli, Raphael, Leonardo Di Vinci and Titan. Queuing can be for up to three hours so it is advisable to book the entrance tickets online.
4. The Statue of David: Sculptured from marble by Michelangelo, the iconic nude Statue of David is seventeen feet high and can be seen at the Galleria dell’Accademia. Expect long queues to see the statue! The gallery also has many wonderful Florentine paintings from artists including Botticelli.
5. Campanile di Giotto: Giotto’s Bell Tower is definitely worth the climb up the steep, narrow stairs, as the views over the city from the tower are superb.
6. Basilica of Santa Croce: Location of the tombs of Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Galileo, this Franciscan church is filled with wonderful treasures including Giotto frescos, stained glass windows and sculptured panels reflecting Dante’s Inferno.
7. Museo di San Marco: This nineteenth century museum focuses on sacred art including Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper. Gift shop onsite.
8. Museo Galileo: Unusual museum dedicated to Galileo Galilei which even has some of the physicist/astronomer’s actual severed fingers on display, along with telescopes, globes and other scientific items.
9. Palazzo Strozzi: Fifteenth century palace used to host many international and national exhibitions, including Florence’s popular antique show.
Milan has the second biggest population in Italy and is an icon to fashion lovers throughout the world. So it should be no surprise that this chic city is the home of Valentino, Gucci, Armani and Prada, among other popular fashion brands. The city is particularly easy to explore as it has a ninety kilometre metro network, a seventeen track tram network and a trolley-bus (busses run on electricity from overhead wires!) network.
As well as being home to iconic fashion brands, Di Dinci’s The Last Supper fresco and Italy’s largest cathedral, the Duomo, Milan is also renowned for its grand opera performances. The city’s internationally famous La Scala opera house was constructed in the eighteenth century and used to be frequented by the likes of Puccini and Verdi! This magnificent theatre can accommodate three thousand people and has an enormous twenty metre wide stage. Even if you are not intending to go to one of its stunning performances, you can visit the opera house’s museum or relax in the Café La Scala’s terrace, sipping coffee and doing a spot of ‘man-watching’ on the street below!
Shopping in Milan can be a truly unique experience, particularly if visiting the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the oldest shopping centres/arcades on the planet. This amazing nineteenth century arcade comprises of four levels and the roof contains a massive glass dome. The shops and restaurants in the arcade are equally special, some dating back to 1867! Alternatively, shoppers can visit Via della Spagna, Via Sant’Andrea or Via Montenapoleone for some designer purchases or Corso di Porta Ticinese or Via Torino for some slightly less expensive shopping outlets.
Milan is a gastronomic heaven for those particularly fond of rice and pasta! Local dishes include Risotto Milanese (risotto with saffron), Cotoletto alla Milanese (breaded veal) and Cassoeula (pork ribs and sausage). Stuffed pumpkin and a stew made with veal shank are also popular dishes in some restaurants. The most popular areas for dining in Milan include those in Brera and Navigli.
Milan is soccer crazy, so a visit to the world famous San Siro stadium is a must for those afflicted with the football bug! This eighty thousand seat stadium is home to two of the biggest soccer teams in the world, A.C. Milan and Inter Milan, and also hosts major pop concerts. The stadium offers tours and has a museum (with a cinema hall!) and a large gift store.
As well as excelling in fashion, culture, gastronomy and sport, Milan can also accommodate those who simply want to take it easy and go for a nice romantic walk! Parco Sempione is a wonderful, nineteenth century city centre park, filled with monuments and a public aquarium.
1. Milan Cathedral: Also called the Duomo di Milano, this enormous, gothic catholic cathedral took almost six hundred years to finish and is Italy’s biggest cathedral. The dome alone is over sixty-five metres high and the cathedral’s spire is an incredible one hundred and eight metres high. The cathedral is so big it can accommodate up to forty thousand people.
2. Sforza Castle: Fifteenth century castle with various museums housing paintings by artists including Canaletto, sculptures by sculptors including Michelangelo, ancient musical instruments, tapestries, antique furniture and Egyptian art.
3. Pinacoteca di Brera: Milan’s premier art gallery exhibiting masterpieces including Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin, Bellini’s Madonna and Child and Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus. Entry is free and there is a beautiful botanical garden at the back of the gallery.
4. Santa Maria delle Grazie: Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this fifteenth century, gothic Roman catholic church has Leonardo Di Vinci’s famous The Last Supper fresco on display. Only small groups of up to thirty people are allowed in to see the fresco at a time so expect some queuing.
5. Piazza del Duomo: Milan’s main square/plaza and home to the Doumo, a shopping gallery, museums, palaces and a stunning monument of King Victor Emmanuel II.
6. Chiesa de San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore: Small sixteenth century, Baroque-styled church filled with treasures including stunning frescos, a fully painted Hall of Nuns and an historic sixteenth century organ.
7. Cimitero Monumental di Milano: Large Milan cemetery with magnificent artistic tombs. Every grave is a masterpiece, so visitors should set aside at least a couple of hours to take in the uniqueness of this resting place of artists, politicians, writers, poets, actors, musicians, philosophers, among other once wealthy elite.
Most people who visit Naples do so initially to visit Pompeii and Vesuvius, but soon find there is so much more to see and do in this historic city. Naples is the third biggest city in Italy and is one of the oldest cities on the planet. And more importantly, Naples is the birthplace of Pizza! For a truly authentic Neapolitan pizza experience, visitors to the city should try any one of the tree most popular local specialities: pizza napoletana marinara, margherita or margherita DOC (the DOC version is made with buffalo mozzarella!).
The short trip to Pompeii will live with the visitor for an eternity, which is why it attracts two and a half million visitors each year. The city was destroyed after being buried under six metres of volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in seventy nine A.D. There is so much to see here that you will need to add extra memory to your camera to capture all the stunning, and slightly horrific sights, including the casts of victims lying where they died! The ancient amphitheatre is also of immense interest and was used by Pink Floyd to record their Live in Pompeii album!
The towering Mount Vesuvius lies only nine kilometres from Naples and was responsible for over sixteen thousand deaths during that infamous eruption. Unbelievably, the volcano is still (very) active and remains a threat to the local population. However, the last major eruption happened back in nineteen forty-four, so the possibility of visitors being slightly scorched is slim! Those brave enough can take a tour right to the volcano’s summit as the whole area is now a national park.
A great way of cooling down after your trip to Vesuvius is to try some of the city’s world renowned gelato (ice cream)! Some of the best flavours to try are Nocciola – made with hazelnut, and Zabaglione – made with wine! After consuming the best ice cream in the world, what else can one do except follow it up with a nice cup of equally famous (and extremely strong!) Neapolitan coffee.
And after all that pizza, ice cream and coffee, why not take a nice relaxing walk along the three kilometre-long Naples seafront promenade (Lungammare). Along the promenade are beaches, a large city park, drink-selling kiosks…and people rollerblading! In the evening, if you sill have the energy, you can attend a beach party at Arenile Beach Club.
1. Naples National Archaeological Museum: Archaeological museum with Roman exhibits (including some from Pompeii) in a sixteenth century, former barracks building. Marble sculptures, bronzes, mosaics and Egyptian artefacts are part of the museum’s collection.
2. Museo Capella Sanservero: Museum in a sixteenth century building housing the beautiful Veil of Christ marble art and many other wonderful statues. (Warning: Absolutely no photographs allowed inside!).
3. Royal Palace of Naples: Seventeenth century palace with beautiful interior rooms, including The Throne Room. The building houses a museum, opera house and national library.
4. Museo Nazionale de Capodimonte: Eighteenth century museum located in the centre of a park/gardens, perched on the side of Capodimonte, with works from popular artists including Caravaggio, Raphael, El Greco and Titian.
5. Catacombs of San Gennaro: Located beside the Madre del Buon Consiglio church are these ancient burial sites, some as old as the third century!
6. Cimitero delle Fontanelle: Creepy cemetery with catacombs underneath, with literally thousands of skeletons/bones on display, including the remains of plague victims inside a cave.
7. San Gregory Armeno: Small church filled with treasures including a colourful ceiling held up with one hundred antique columns. The church has made some excellent use of golf leaf decoration. Outside the church are wonderful narrow streets filled with artisan shops, many selling handmade nativity scenes.
8. Naples Cathedral: Thirteenth century, Roman Catholic cathedral with beautiful frescos, high altar, canvasses, fourth century mosaics a crypt and a veil of blood from St Januarius.
9. Castel Nuovo: Wonderfully imposing picturesque castle, built in the thirteenth century. Inside, there are many interesting sights including a room with a glass floor, allowing visitors to see the underground rooms.
10. San Francesco di Paola: Large church with an exterior similar to that of the Pantheon, with an enormous dome over fifty metres tall. Inside are some wonderful altarpieces, paintings and statues by popular sculptors.
If you want to experience something totally unique, then visit Venice as there is absolutely nothing like it under the sun! It is so special, the whole city has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and so it is no surprise that Venice attracts over fifty thousand tourists every day! And because the city is sinking at a rate of about two millimetres per annum, the sooner you experience this watery wonderland the better!
Your first point of call on visiting Venice will probably be the most famous square in the world, Piazza St Marco (St Mark’s Square), where St Mark’s Basilica stands. This magnificent Roman Catholic, Byzantium-styled church has not one but five domes and five arched entrance points at the front. Inside this eleventh century masterpiece are marble floors and stunning mosaics.
Those of you short of time will be able to plan your visit to St Mark’s Square by means of a large fourteenth century zodiac clock face, Torre dell’Orologio, to the north of the square! The square is filled with restaurants (some with orchestras!), cafes, museums, boutique and gift shops…and of course pigeons, lots and lots of way-too-friendly pigeons, all waiting to be fed. (Be warned! It is now an offence to feed the St Mark’s Square’s pigeons, as they are considered to be pests!)
Venice is famous for its Grand Canal, where visitors can avail of the speedy waterbuses and water taxies. However, the most romantic way of travelling around the city is by means of gondola. Rides cost from eighty euro for forty-fives minutes and can accommodate up to six people. In its heyday Venice had ten thousand gondolas on its waters. Today there are only four hundred!
A nice alternative to St Mark’s Square and the unforgettable gondola experience is to take a waterbus to do some island hopping! Lido island has a seven mile-long sandbank, so if you are looking for a beach holiday, then Lido’s your place! San Giorgio Maggiore island is also worth a visit as it has the wonderful Palladio-designed Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, open-air Teatro Verde theatre and an arts centre. Pellestrina island will reward the visitor with some wonderfully quaint villages with houses painted with unusual colours! And finally, if stunning glass excites you, a visit to the Murano islands is to be recommended, as the islands are famed for their intricate glass making.
Like many other Italian cities, Venice has its fair share of festivals. The Venice International Film Festival is the longest running film festival on the planet and is held on Lido island at the end of August/beginning of Sept. The colourful Carnival of Venice Festival is an Easter-long festival when participants typically wear colourful Venetian masks. The festival attracts over three million visitors and one of its highlights is the selection of the most beautiful mask.
1. Palazzo Ducale: Stunning waterside, fourteenth century, gothic-styled palace, housing weird and wonderful attractions including torture rooms/dungeons/ prison cells, map reception room, paintings and ceiling art.
2. The Bridge of Sighs: Small but wonderfully photogenic, seventeenth century enclosed bridge (named by Lord Byron!) that connects the Palazzo Ducale with the New Prison. It is said that couples who kiss under the bridge will be rewarded with everlasting love.
3. The Rialto Bridge: The oldest bridge crossing Venice’s Grand Canal, this iconic twenty-six metre-long structure is supported by over twelve thousand wooden piles. The sunset views over the canal from the bridge are unforgettable and the bridge vendors add to its uniqueness.
4. Peggy Guggenheim Collection: Canal-side, twenty century art museum with works by Picasso, Duchamp and Dali, housed in an eighteenth century palace. Terrace, café and gift store onsite.
5. Santa Maria della Salute: Seventeenth century Roman Catholic, baroque-styled church built on over one million wooden piles, with two bell towers, twin domes and one hundred and twenty-five statues on its exterior! Inside are some amazing altars, paintings and statues.
6. Teatro la Fenice: World renowned opera venue. The best way to experience this ninety million euro venue is by going to an actual performance! Alternatively, visitors can take an audio/guided tour, or the ‘premier’ guided tour and get a free cocktail at the end.
7. Scuola Grande di San Rocco: Gallery filled with frescos, murals, wooden carvings and paintings (mainly by Tintoretto). The stunning ceiling paintings of Adam and Eve and Miracle of the Bronze Serpent will amaze.
8. St Mary of the Friars: One of the finest churches in all of Italy, this fourteenth century church houses work by Titan and Bellini, as well as having some marvellous wood carvings, choir stalls and statues. The church is also the resting place of Titan, Monteverdi and Canova.
9. Ca’ Rezzonico: Museum with exhibits relating to eighteenth century Venice, all displayed wonderfully in a grand Palazzo. Review cheap hotels in Venice for great value deals!